Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Motivation – Self Help – NLP in Daily Life – Perceptual Positions

A Concept from NLP for Analyzing Problems and Interpreting Behaviour 

In order to get a holistic view of a situation  or see the “big picture”  sometimes  there is a need to view things from a distance . 

They say that:

You cannot solve a Problem  if you are a Part of the Problem

So you must “step out” of the problem and view the situation from outside in a detached dispassionate way.

This may help you in analyzing the problem properly and help you in arriving at a solution. 

In your personal life too it may be of great advantage if you develop the ability to watch your own life from a distance.

In fact, the ability to see things from a distance is the sine qua non for self improvement and personal development. 

Think about it. 

If you are in the middle of trees you may not be able to see the whole forest.

Likewise, being in the middle of a situation may prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Tell me, in the personal and professional domains of your life, haven't you encountered situations where it would have been best to adopt a “detached” stance...?

Is it not better to view a situation from multiple perspectives...?

Is it not true, what I said earlier  that  you cannot solve a problem if you are a part of the problem  especially an ethical dilemma.

I am sure you have heard people saying: 

“If I were in your position...” 


“I can see your point of view...”
Have you ever put yourself in someone else’s shoes and had the experience of seeing the world or situation through the eyes of someone else..?
Have you ever tried to be an observer  detached and rational  and looked at a situation as if you are not a part of it...?
Understanding and empathizing with other points of view is the sine qua non of effective communication.
Also  it is said  that  to solve a problem  you should not be a part of the problem – or inside the problem  but you must view the problem from a distance.
The Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) concept of Perceptual Positions can help you see a situation – or a problem  from different points of view  in new ways  dispassionately  from a “distance”  with emotional detachment. 

It will help you get the “bigger picture” – maybe even the “the holistic picture”. 

You will be able to visualize and analyse a situation  especially an ethical dilemma – from the viewpoints of all stakeholders.
Yes  the first step towards solving a problem is to properly analyse the problem – to get to the root cause of the problem  and this technique of perceptual positions will help you do formulate the Root Definition of the problem or ethical situation and facilitate implementation of Soft System Methodology, especially in the formulation of the CATWOE and SIPOC models, which is the next step in solving the problem. 

Dear Reader  Before we move on to the NLP concept of Perceptual Positions – let me tell you that I used another concept from NLP called Anchoring (along with Force Field Analysis) to Quit Smoking more than 15 Years ago.

Here is the link to my self help article on HOW TO QUIT SMOKING (Do Click the Link if you are keen on quitting smoking or helping a smoker quit – the link will open in a new window – so you can complete reading this article on PERCEPTUAL POSITIONS now – and you read the Quit Smoking article later – Link Url: )



My Perspective – or  the Self Perspective 
Seeing the situation or world completely through your own eyes. 

The first position enables you to be clear about what is important to you and discover your own personal values and beliefs. 

If you are in the first position you are very much within your own body and you are subject to strong emotional feelings. 

In NLP parlance – the experience of being in the first position is called being associated.

The disadvantages of being associated are that it may be difficult to critically review your own feelings – and sometimes you can get swayed by your own emotions. 

The advantage of being associated is that you feel involved in the situation.


Your Perspective – or – the “Other” Perspective  
Seeing the situation or world from through the eyes of – and from the point of view of  someone else. 

This perceptual position will help you get into the other person’s shoes and you will get a sense of their perspective and how they see the situation. 

In common parlance  this is called empathy.  

In NLP parlance – the experience of being in the second position is called being dissociated.

This is because, in contrast to the first position you are able to be detached and you are able to observe yourself from a different perspective. 

The disadvantage of being in a dissociated state is that it can desensitize your emotional responses and give others the impression that you are being cold and distant.


The Observer Position 
Looking at a situation as an external impartial observer – dissociated and emotionally detached from the situation. 

This perceptual position will enable you to have a balanced approach  especially in emotionally charged situations. 

This entails both the individual – and with whom she is interacting – are both being observed at the same time from a distant position  outside all persons in the interaction.

You may step back and “watch yourself watch yourself” – it is like seeing the situation on a movie screen – or on TV.


The System Viewpoint  or  the Bird’s Eye View 
Adopting a “systems approach” and looking at a situation from the perspective of the whole system  integrating perspectives of all stakeholders in the system using soft systems methodology  in order to visualize the overall “system perspective”.


The Universal Perspective or the World View (Weltanschauung
Seeing the “whole picture” by analyzing multiple perceptual positions. 

This is a most vital soft skill you must develop using various soft system models like CATWOE, Archetypes etc.


Close your eyes and think of various recent situations  especially situations of conflict  and then  try to visualize the situations from different perceptual positions. 
You can consciously develop the ability to visualize and adopt different perceptual positions.

Not only will this help you improve your conflict management and decision making abilities  but this will greatly enhance your communication skills.

You must be flexible and try to move between perceptual positions in a dynamic manner to achieve optimal results.

Spending too much time in the FIRST PERCEPTUAL POSITION – may lead you to be excessively emotional, self-centered and lacking in empathy.

Always trying to be in the SECOND PERCEPTUAL POSITION may result in you falling a victim to the “disease to please” syndrome  leading to overemphasis in helping others – to the detriment of your own interests and personal well-being.

Spending too much time in the THIRD PERCEPTUAL POSITION may make you cold, hard-hearted, uncaring and insensitive towards others  so you must always try and develop the flexibility and agility to see different points of view from various perceptual positions.

Therefore  it is best to adopt a Triple Description  which entails considering the situation from the three basic Perceptual Positions – the FIRST –  the SECOND – and  the THIRD Perceptual Positions – and then – combining the experience of all the 3 Perceptual Positions.
In the words of Robert Dilts:

“Excellence is a passionate commitment to something from the SELF position.

WISDOM is the ability to consciously move back and forth between SELF  OTHER  and – OBSERVER Perceptual Positions.”

As you consciously practice the concept of perceptual positions – you will develop the ability of creative visualization to shift between perceptual positions at your own will.

In some situations you can experiment shifting between all the five perceptual positions  and  when you combine the experience this will develop in you statesmanlike qualities which all great leaders possess.

This “multiple description” ability to shift between perceptual positions and combining the experience will enhance your resourceful thinking process – and it will improve your ability to deal effectively and positively with a variety of people and situations. 

(By the way – this is easier said than done – and – I have not been able to achieve this in most situations – but – I keep trying)

On a lighter note  this NLP concept of Perceptual Positions will help you in personal life situations too  especially as you grow older. 

The Perceptual Positions Concept is useful to retired senior citizen “old fogies” like me as well.

You must have observed that  as you grow older  slowly but surely  you are made to feel redundant.

Your views are not sought  and  you are relegated to a position of an observer. 

It is great to be an “distant” observer.

Looking at situations from different points of view by adopting perceptual positions will make you enjoy various situations. 

And this will certainly help you in ascertaining divergent ethical perspectives of various stakeholders for ethical analysis in an ethical situation.
Let me paraphrase one of my favorite quotes:

If you want to be seen  stand up

If you want to be heard  speak up

If you want to be appreciated  shut up 

(and appreciate the situation using the technique of perceptual positions)

Try out this NLP concept of Perceptual Positions in your daily life  at work  at home  everywhere  even while roaming on the streets

You will be amazed by the results.

Have a Happy Week Ahead. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This is based on my personal experience. It may or may not work for you. So please do due diligence before trying out this technique.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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